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'We exposed the truth:' Woman found guilty in Red Lion students' deaths

Written by Dylan Segelbaum/The York Daily Record | Jul 21, 2017 9:32 AM
jodie_tierney.jpg

Jodie Tierney, 46, of Windsor Township, second from right, leaves the York County Judicial Center on Thursday after being found guilty of two counts of involuntary manslaughter and related offenses. The jury took 1 1/2 hours to find her criminally responsible for the deaths of Stone Hill, 17, of Delta, and Nick Mankin, 16, of Felton, who died in a car crash on June 16, 2015. They were both rising seniors at Red Lion Area Senior High School and had been drinking earlier at the Tierney residence. (Photo: Chris Dunn, York Daily Record)

(York) -- Jodie Tierney stood with her hands clasped as the jury foreman announced the verdict.

Two counts of endangering the welfare of children. Guilty. Two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Guilty. Corruption of minors. Guilty. Selling or furnishing liquor to minors. Guilty.

Tierney, 46, of Windsor Township, was found criminally responsible on Thursday for the deaths of Stone Hill, 17, of Delta, and Nick Mankin, 16, of Felton, who died in a car crash after drinking at her home on June 16, 2015. They were both going into their senior year at Red Lion Area Senior High School and played football with her oldest son, Stephen II.

The jury deliberated for about 1 1/2 hours. When the verdict was read at about 3:40 p.m., people in the courtroom started to cry. Outside, Glenn and Tina Hill, Stone's parents, and Bryan and Carol Tracey, Nick's parents, embraced loved ones.

"What we're most grateful for right now, of course, is No. 1, we exposed the truth of what occurred," Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tim Barker said in an interview, adding that there's a "high probability" the commonwealth will ask for a period of incarceration.

During the almost two-week trial, Barker and Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sarah Buhite argued that Tierney allowed and encouraged underage drinking -- stating that she even bought alcohol for the teenagers on three occasions -- at her home on Percheron Drive.

It's a pattern of conduct, they said, that led to the fatal crash.

Stone, who was driving a 2002 Toyota 4Runner, had a blood alcohol content of 0.094 percent, the Pennsylvania State Police said. Before the crash, he was drinking beer and took four to five shots of rum at the Tierney residence, according to testimony.

Prosecutors never alleged that Tierney -- who was at work for most of the day -- bought alcohol for the teens on that occasion.

But the prosecution called a witness, Joe Argento, who testified that he had to pick up his son, 16, at the Tierneys' that afternoon because he passed out after drinking at least half a bottle of rum. When Argento was at the house, Stephen Tierney, her husband, turned and said, "This has got to stop," according to testimony. The crash happened less than three hours later.

"All she needed to do was be a parent. Pick up the phone," Barker said in his closing argument. "They're dead. Because she wouldn't."

Meanwhile, Douglas Bare, Jodie Tierney's attorney, suggested that Stone and Nick were part of the "party crowd" and had been drinking at other places before they started going to his client's home.

Bare questioned whether Stone was driving the SUV -- police said they had "insufficient evidence" to make a determination -- and noted that he did not seem to be "visibly intoxicated." It appears that investigators did not order tests to determine Nick's blood alcohol level.

Later, Bare called an expert in medical toxicology who testified that the blood alcohol concentration for Stone was not reliable. The defense said other factors, including texting, could have caused the crash.

He conceded that his client bought alcohol for minors on one occasion: April 2, 2015. But Bare noted that she did not provide them with booze on June 16, 2015, nor did she force Stone and Nick to drink and drive.

"The bottom line here is if there's no signs of intoxication, if she's not home, if she didn't furnish the alcohol, it's not guilty," Bare said in his closing argument.

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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